The ghosts of the past and the seduction of the future
I get discouraged sometimes when I think about what I used to be able to do. I used to be able to run 5 km, for example. Even though I was slow, I could do it without stopping. Running that standard distance made me feel accomplished and I was proud of the races I finished. Over time, I eventually gave up running, due to spraining my ankle and other physical ailments. I can’t run 5 km any more nor do I have a desire to return to running.
My mind likes to tell me that I’m the same person that I was 25 years ago. I know that I’m not the same physically or perhaps mentally, but my memories don’t seem to age the same way my body does. By looking back to what I could do when I was younger, it sometime screws me up in the present. The problem is that I start to make comparisons and because I can’t do some things like I used to do, I start to berate myself.
Comparisons are a dangerous game. I fall victim to it more times than I would like to admit. I compare my home to other homes, or my smart phone to new phones, or my career to others. Even though there are times that I’m smug and assume that my home, phone, or career is better than someone else, the truth is, there is no “better”. It is just different. It may be clichéd but the grass is not greener on the other side.
In addition to using the past to judge me, I sometimes succumb to the seduction of the future. I bet you know what I’m talking about. Someday, when I’m 20 pounds lighter, have more time, money, or energy, I’ll do all the things that I long to do. Maybe I’ll write that novel or I’ll volunteer with the SPCA, or I’ll [insert any and all kinds of items on my wish list].
When I make the comparisons to others, or to my past, or when I long for the future after certain conditions are met, I miss the opportunity to see the potential of where I stand right now, right this minute. I might not run anymore, but I still take my dog for a walk and the walks bring us both great joy. I like to hike with friends and walk around the island I now call home. I have everything I need right now; I don’t have any unfulfilled needs so I don’t need to look to the future for fulfillment. Rather than listen to the ghosts of the past or the whispered seduction of the future, I need to focus on the present by asking: “What is the opportunity I have right now, today?” The answer to that question is my potential.
Cheers, Catherine Location: Saltspring Island, BC
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